NAPERVILLE, Ill. (STMW) – Law enforcement officials have arrested 150 people across the U.S. for allegedly forcing children into prostitution, following a three-day effort said to be the most comprehensive of its kind in American history.
Naperville police on Thursday worked with 11 FBI agents in “Operation Cross Country,” which targeted child sexual exploitation and human trafficking, the Naperville Sun is reporting.
Police arrested four women in Naperville on prostitution-related charges that did not involve children. Police found no children locally who had been forced into prostitution, nor did they arrest any suspected pimps.
The Sun on Sunday reported Naperville police had participated in a significant, prostitution-related criminal investigation. Operation Cross Country involved myriad local law enforcement agencies and investigators from the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Naperville Police Sgt. Lou Cammiso said Monday in a news release the effort was “aimed at disrupting the cycle of victimization of children involved in prostitution by getting them off the streets, and at developing sufficient evidence to bring serious federal charges against the pimps who are profiting from the sale of children in this way.”
The women who were taken into custody Thursday at the Naperville police station were Francheska P. Lozier, 25, of Houston; Chelsey D. Newlon, 21, of Springfield, Mo.; Ruthie N. Wells, 21, of north suburban Niles; and Jessica R. White, 21, of Sandwich.
All four face trial on misdemeanor charges of attempted prostitution, according to records on file in DuPage County Circuit Court in Wheaton. All are free on bond.
Cammiso’s statement did not divulge details of where or how the women came to be arrested. Undercover police officers in the past have arrested suspected prostitutes and their pimps by using such Internet sites as Craigslist, or have taken them into custody in or near the hotels and motels that dot Naperville’s northwest and northeast sides.
Federal officials during a Monday news conference said Operation Cross Country suspects were arrested in 76 cities. All are expected to face state and federal charges related to sex crimes and human trafficking.
A total of 48 pimps were arrested in Detroit, Oklahoma City and San Francisco, according to the FBI. One was arrested in the metropolitan Chicago area.
FBI agents and local police officers rescued 105 children, including two in Chicago, during the operation. The youths were found at motels, truck stops, casinos and other places where they were being held against their wills, federal officials said.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)